NEWS

Calls For Life Esidimeni Families in Gauteng To Come Forward

The Gauteng premier's office wants to begin an alternative dispute resolution into the deaths.

16/08/2017 07:06 SAST | Updated 16/08/2017 07:06 SAST
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Relatives and family members of some of the 94 mentally ill patients who died last year, hold a candle light vigil organised by the Democratic Alliance in February. Photo: GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

There have been calls for the families of those who died during the Life Esidimeni tragedy to come forward, as government tries to start an "alternative dispute resolution" it was mandated to do by an investigation.

The Gauteng premier's office was trying to reach the families of more than 100 mentally ill patients who died when they were transferred from Life Esidimeni facilities to NGOs, The Star reported on Wednesday.

In February, health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba released the findings of his investigation into the tragedy, and recommended the families of the victims and government enter into an alternative dispute resolution process. This is to be headed by retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke.

Makgoba found that at least 94 patients died when they were moved to 27 NGOs, many of which were not registered and could not cater to their needs. The patients died of hunger, thirst and cold after the move, which was a cost-cutting measure.

Gauteng premier David Makhura's spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, reportedly said the office was trying to find all of the families.

"We want people to contact the department so they can be part of the process. We don't want to leave anyone out," he said.

As of the beginning of August, 115 deaths have been reported, while 37 inquests and 73 inquiries have been opened, The Star reported.

Families have until Friday to contact the premier's office and can call 086 001 1000 or email mentalhealth@gauteng.gov.za.

Meanwhile, the DA's Jack Bloom said on Tuesday that two senior officials implicated in the deaths have received a total of R1.17million while suspended on full pay, while six other officials are still employed by the Gauteng health department. Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramakgopa reportedly revealed this in a reply to written questions in the Gauteng provincial legislature.

"Head of Department (HOD) Dr T E Selebano and Director of Mental Health Dr M J Manamela were suspended on the 8th and 15th Februarythis year after the report of the Health Ombudsman was made public on 1 February.

"Dr Selebano has since been paid R784 040 and Dr Manamela has received R385 269 while their disciplinary process continues.

"A further six Deputy Directors faced disciplinary hearings but were not suspended. According to Ramokgopa, this was because "there was no reason to suspend them when the Health Ombudsman's recommendation was for 'corrective' disciplinary action."

"Ramokgopa says that the Department had to follow supply chain processes to get outside professionals to handle the disciplinary hearings, which led to delays," said Bloom.